Derek Thompson (born 4th April 1948) is a Northern Irish actor, most notable for playing Charlie Fairhead in the long-running BBC television medical drama series Casualty. Thompson has played the role since the series' inception in 1986.
Thompson was born in Belfast and has a twin sister, Elaine Thompson. From their teenage years, they combined to form the singing duo Elaine and Derek. They recorded four albums and 15 EP's together. They sang in harmonies, and released one eponymously titled album, on the Parlophone label in 1961. They then formed folk trio Odin's People with Larry Johns, who recorded two singles in 1967. Derek appeared in the feature film Gonks Go Beat (1965) and before landing his big break in Casualty, he acted in repertory in places such as Perth, Birmingham, London and Newcastle.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Thompson became a regular face in BBC and ITV dramas. Appearances included Softly Softly, Play for Today, and Rock Follies of 77. He got a big break in Harry's Game, where he played the lead IRA gunman opposite fellow Irish actor Hazel O'Connor. Later he played another IRA hitman in the TV series The Price and for a British mercenary gang in the Wild Geese II, both shot in 1985.
During late 1970s and early 1980s Thompson had a number of minor film roles. In Yanks (1979) and Breaking Glass (1980), and also played Jeff, Harold Shand's lieutenant, in the box office hit Hollywood movie The Long Good Friday.
Thompson began portraying Charlie Fairhead in Casualty in 1986. That same year he met his future wife, Dee Sadler, an actress playing Maggie, who had to be rescued from a cave before hospitalisation. Thompson has currently played the role of Charlie for over 30 years, and is the only remaining character from the original cast. In 2004 his character went on a six-month sabbatical, which remains his most notable absence from the show. Currently, he is allowed a few months off from filming per year. Apart from Casualty, he has also played Charlie in the spin-off shows Holby City and HolbyBlue.
As of 2010, Thompson lived in a rented flat in Bristol and also owns a house in Brixton. He and his wife have a son, who appeared as a baby in one episode of Casualty, and he also has an older son by a previous marriage to Christine, a theatre director.
A sufferer of dystonia, Thompson became patron of the Dystonia Society in 2006.